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Comcast Confessions

swb Re:I must be the outlier (130 comments)

I'm not quite sure why Comcast hasn't emiserated the in-store situation yet; but apparently they haven't, and it's not as though the front-line peons are fucking with you for their pleasure, so if they aren't forced to they generally won't.

The last time I went to a Comcast service center there were no fewer than a half-dozen people waiting in line, perhaps as many as a dozen and only 4 employees.

The lack of strongarm tactics in stores is probably deliberate to avoid the kinds of arguments and chaos that would end up getting uploaded to youtube from a cell phone camera.

Or it could be flat-out fear. Most people in my line looked somewhere between pretty annoyed and downright pissed. It's easy to be an asshat on the phone, when the guy in front if you is 6'2, 240 and sick of your shit you tend to be a little more cautious. At best you'll get yelled at, at worst you might end up having your face decelerate a DVR.

1 hour ago

Hackers Plundered Israeli Defense Firms That Built 'Iron Dome' Missile Defense

swb Re:And it'll keep happening, again and again... (138 comments)

So nobody screwed around at work before computers? No bullshitting around the eponymous water cooler, coffee machine, long lunches, etc?

1 hour ago

Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

swb Re:Radicalization (735 comments)

Even when the existence of the UK was largely no longer in question, the British firebombed Dresden punitively.


Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture

swb Cultural cycle speed-heroin (490 comments)

Doesn't the cultural cycle of drugs always go from speed to heroin? Speed provides the energy and "go" but the come down is rough, so there's a turn towards tranquilizers and opioids as a way to manage the come-down.

I've never been on that merry-go-round, but the older I get the more sleep deprivation hurts, physically. It's not just being tired, my body aches, almost like the early stages of strep throat or the flu. A little opioid would really take the edge off that.

It's not hard to see adderall and vicodin/oxycodone being a popular combination in Silicon Valley.

2 days ago

Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture

swb Re:My experience with hydrocodone... (490 comments)

I had a bad accident which resulted in 2/3rds of my left ring finger getting amputated and the end joint on my middle finger getting fused. Needless to say, I was on a lot of painkillers. 40 mg oxycodone per day for about two weeks, which gradually tapered down to about 5 mg as needed, which amounted to about 5-10 mg a day for maybe 4 months.

Like you, I got kind of tired of the large doses after a while. They made me feel kind of sluggish and lazy. Even when I had tapered down I really kind of resisted taking a second 5 mg dose in one day unless I felt there was a compelling need. It seemed to be more bad side effects and less good value.

I eventually ended up mostly taking a single dose in the morning; for some reason my hand hurt worst in the morning and even if it didn't, not dosing in the morning usually meant my hand hurt worse than normal by mid-day and it was harder to recover (more meds, more time) once it got painful.

Like you, that single dose in the morning seemed to have a kind of calming focus. I'm also a huge coffee drinker, so I would imagine the combination was the key. But I never really wanted another dose during the day. I couldn't recapture the effect from the morning. I just got sluggish.

Unlike you I took them all, probably past where I had a hard-core need, but when they were gone -- zero sense of any withdrawal symptoms. Nothing. My sense is that addiction requires big doses that keep your level up nearly 24 hours a day for weeks. Tiny doses, like 5 mg, once a day probably just can't produce a true physical dependence because you go "dry" after about 8 hours.

I'd probably keep taking them if I had them, but only once a day, and that may be the difference. People who get addicted don't have that "it doesn't work so well in the afternoon" effect; for them it works every time and they really notice it when it stops. I just had no interest in more, it worked against me.

2 days ago

Popular Android Apps Full of Bugs: Researchers Blame Recycling of Code

swb Re:Code Academies (143 comments)

I'd guess it would look like the Apple ][ or the very early days of the IBM PC and there would be just less functionality.

2 days ago

When Spies and Crime-Fighters Squabble Over How They Spy On You

swb Re:Better than nothing? (120 comments)

You'd like to think this means something good, like maybe the spy guys have some moral disdain for spying on citizens for law enforcement purposes but I think that's just wishful thinking.

My guess is that at best, this is about the spy guys not wanting to lose any advantage they have over high-value, careful adversaries who will walk away from a communication system if they think it could be compromised.

At worst, it's bureaucratic one-upmanship, with national security types wanting to keep their status over mere criminal law enforcement.

The downside is that it leads to parallel construction where law enforcement just uses the techniques anyway and then builds a legal case from evidence they wouldn't have been able to link together otherwise, burying the secret info along the way.

This may also encourage the spies to help law enforcement if they think their techniques may be used but otherwise obscured by the parallel case.

3 days ago

Apple Acquires "Pandora For Books" Booklamp For $15 Million

swb Did anyone ever try booklamp? (26 comments)

I'm dubious on the Pandora style genome concept at least as implemented by Pandora. That being said, I've listened to it and gotten some artists/songs out of it that I'd probably never hear of, so I think there's something to the idea.

My main complaint is that I wish they would give you some kind of control panel for each "station" so that you could fine-tune the recommendations by genome key words, years, etc and not just get their choices. It'd also be nice to be able to just browse the genome database without having to listen to a song.

Anyway, it'd be interesting to see what a book recommendation system like this would look like and how well it would work. I'm also curious if they do some kind of automated analysis of the texts or if its just human-derived stuff.

3 days ago

How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

swb Re:FUD filled.... (212 comments)

Since this whole war on terrorism nonsense, they've gotten kind of funny about tours for the sake of curiosity.

The Union Electric plant didn't have a visitor center -- you just showed up outside an entrance and employee took you anywhere you wanted to go. I even got to go inside one of the generators.

4 days ago

Switching From Microsoft Office To LibreOffice Saves Toulouse 1 Million Euros

swb Re:sure, works for France (284 comments)

You can have all the vacation time you want anywhere you live

Which is why every American takes 6 weeks in the summer.

In my experience, most permanent job employers don't like to negotiate on vacation time. Sometimes they'll give on a day or two, but usually they're not crazy about vacation time that deviates from whatever the position qualifies for. The only explanation ever given to me was that because salary is "secret" it's easier to compensate employees differentially; vacation is visible to other employees at the same level and differential compensation creates tension.

In a contract employment situation you can negotiate anything, but I've found in shorter term contracts there's usually some kind of deadline that's non-negotiable, making free-lance vacationing a little bit challenging.

4 days ago

New SSL Server Rules Go Into Effect Nov. 1

swb Re:Big Problems (90 comments)

You can change the names used by Exchange so that you completely avoid any ".local" addresses. About the only kludge (which is usually already in place) is a being able to resolve public domains to internal addresses.

4 days ago

Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

swb Re:raise money privately? (198 comments)

I think roads are the best (and in some ways the most literal) examples of what municipal broadband should be.

The government builds roads past my house but it only provides "dark asphalt" (aka dark fiber), it doesn't provide any of the services that could be provided by the highway.

The government then licenses "service providers" to provide services on the municipal roads -- taxes for trucks that deliver things to my house, taxis, or even access fees for me to drive a vehicle on those roads. I have to pay myself to utilize the services provided by the roads.

Municipal broadband should be the same way -- it should only be the transit network, anything else -- IP connectivity/Internet should require me to pay an internet provider who in turn has paid for whatever access they need to the municipal network the same way businesses pay fees (direct or indirect) to use the roads to deliver services.

Comcast could sell TV services or Internet services, although I would expect that some other ISP would offer an better product than Comcast and they would be a marginal player, which of course is their entire objection -- hey have a rent-seeking monopoly they want to maintain. If the pipe to your house was open to any service provider, it seems likely they would only get a minority of people who wanted traditional cable television.

4 days ago

Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

swb Re:FCC does not make laws (198 comments)

But all the magic comes from the Commerce Clause.

You can't build a nuclear reactor without importing components for it across state lines. It starts there. I'd also imagine that NRC and EPA approval would also stem from (mostly) reasonable arguments that the natural environment (wind, water, etc) is inherently interstate and that any risk from a nuclear accident would have interstate impact. Probably some justification on national security grounds relative to radioactive materials as well.

The same thing would be used to justify federal anti-discrimination laws should I decide not serve some group in my local restaurant in which I only serve food obtained locally, cooked in a kitchen made entirely of locally-sourced, locally made cookware and served on locally-made dishware from locally-sourced materials in a building made from locally-sourced building materials by bearded, local bohemians wearing only locally sourced clothing who only drink locally brewed beer in locally made mugs.

4 days ago

How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

swb Re:FUD filled.... (212 comments)

When I toured the Union Electric hydropower plant in Keokuk, Iowa back in the 1990s when they still let you into places like that (with a camera, no less) the guy showed me a hand-crank the size of a bicycle wheel that was originally designed to dead start the plant when it was self-powered.

Apparently spinning that generated just enough power to get one of the turbines generating electricity and that was enough power to boot strap the entire plant.

5 days ago

Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

swb Re:FCC does not make laws (198 comments)

Welcome to a law school! I see you have chosen extended scholarship on the history, scope and meaning of the US Constitution's Commerce Clause.

Please see the law librarian for a beginniner's biography to begin your studies.

5 days ago

Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

swb Re:Avoiding Amazon Web Services? (168 comments)

One question might be "What business is Amazon in?"

They almost feel like one of those somewhat out of fashion companies that owns a whole bunch of businesses that are only tangentially related. Are they a consumer electronics company? A hard goods company? A clothing company (Zappos, and Amazon's fashion wing)? A bookseller? An internet services company?

With regard to the last one, maybe AWS isn't a long-term business but a medium-term strategy to sell their own excess capacity to cover the cost of having excess capacity in the near term and gain specific expertise in managing large, distributed computing environments almost 100% under their control.

At some point in a more mature Amazon business, does AWS go away because they no longer need to cover their own excess capacity? I'm guessing that AWS will be big enough business not to, but Amazon's kind of amorphous business model seems to add some uncertainty.

5 days ago

How the Internet of Things Could Aid Disaster Response

swb Re:So Short-Sighted (60 comments)

How do you manage routing, especially across multiple identically numbered private networks?

Even if you make the assumption that the IoT has the bandwidth, range and routing capability for meshing, it seems ripe for many kinds of abuse. Greedy traffic handling (dumping incoming, flooding outgoing), MITM, etc.

about a week ago

Ebola Outbreak Continues To Expand

swb Risk of mutation to something worse? (167 comments)

I am not a virologist or an epidemiologist (nor do I play one on TV) but I always seem to remember the risk of a larger pandemic from Ebola or other similar severe hemorrhagic fevers was reduced due to the nature of these illnesses having a rapid onset and severity which limits the ability of infected people to be ambulatory and infect other people.

What I wonder and maybe worry about is a long-term low-grade outbreak leading to mutations which increase the amount of time the infected might be able to spread the illness. I don't know how likely this is, but it seems kind of a scary idea.

about a week ago

Open-Source Blu-Ray Library Now Supports BD-J Java

swb Re:this is great news! (94 comments)

I own two Panasonic blu-ray players and they have all been terribly slow at everything, from loading discs to using the "smart" features like Amazon and Netflix. One of the Panasonics quite regularly requires me to cut the power to it and cold start it to either watch Internet content ("NO NETWORK") or to watch a movie (hang up with a "Loading.." graphic).

The Amazon interface on them also seems stuck in the stone age -- you can browse titles or search, but the 'modern' Amazon interface found in Sonys or the iOS apps isn't there so the Watch List isn't available.

HBO discs are the worst with these units due to their bloated menu/multimedia content. I just reflexively cold start my player before trying to watch an HBO disc.

about a week ago

Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

swb Re:Breaking news (613 comments)

"Ownership of the means of production" is just a high-falutin' Marxist way of saying property rights. If I'm some peasant in a feudal society, the "means of production" boils down to my hoe and the patch of dirt where I grow vegetables.

Property "rights" in feudal societies generally boils down me keeping what little I have mainly because its of so little value nobody has bothered expending any effort to take it from me, not because I manage to maintain physical possession of it. It stays in my possession not because of any rights I have, only because entropy has a tendency to keep objects at rest where they are.

The fact that my liege can take anything away from my anytime he wants to creates an uncertainty of possession and is a major disincentive to productivity -- why work beyond a subsistence level if you have no idea (or every idea) when it will be taken away from me.

about a week ago


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